Vocal consort music in England 1600-30

Aims and content

The 16th century was a glorious period for vocal polyphony, followed by the reaction to it of monody led by Italian composers, which we call the Baroque.   Yet in Germany and in England, long after the death in 1603 of Queen Elizabeth, whose name is synonymous with the madrigal, polyphony refused to die at this convenient cut-off point.  Composers continued to write for vocal ensemble, re-defining polyphony and incorporating the new monodic style and Italian colours into it.

In England, Byrd, Weelkes, Ward, Wilbye, Tomkins, Gibbons, Ramsey and Dering (to name but a few) continued to fuse a love of contrapuntal writing with an Italian taste for word-painting to produce highly individual works right up until the civil war, which Purcell knew and was as much a part of his education as modern French and Italian styles.

Applying for the project:

You must apply for this project as a group, and therefore everyone in the ensemble must make this project their first choice. All applicants should be able to hold their own vocal line, one to a part.

Groups participating will need to be: S S (or highish mezzo) A T B  or  S S A T T B (or a transposable form of this) with organ continuo players (and collaboration with the department’s viol consort) also a possibility.  However, there may be some rearrangement of the singers for some sessions to make groups of differing sizes to deal with differently laid out works. Please contact Robert Hollingworth before selecting this project.

Assessment

Recital of c. 40 minutes of repertoire agreed with the project tutor.  Recitals will take place in week 9 of the term of the project.

Reading and listening

Initial pieces to study as below though the final list may depend on the line-up of the groups.

  • Tomkins – Songs for 3, 4, 5 & 6 parts (1622)
  • Tomkins – Anthems
  • Gibbons - Verse anthems
  • Weelkes/Ward/Wilbye/Ramsey/Dering – Madrigals and Motets

Learning outcomes

By the end of the taught part of the project all students should:

  • be familiar with the repertoire of all the different groups taking part, and be able to place it within a musical and historical context;
  • be familiar with the important techniques of the repertoire, and be able to identify and discuss their effect;
  • be able to apply appropriate styles of ornamentation for the repertoire
  • produce a performance emotionally appropriate to the character of each piece

First years: On completion of the module, in their independent work, students should demonstrate Learning Outcomes A8

Second years: On completion of the module, in their independent work, students should demonstrate Learning Outcomes B8

Third years: On completion of the module, in their independent work, students should demonstrate Learning Outcomes C8